Stealing history, second base
Entering the 2009 season, there were a bevy of question marks about who would secure certain roles on the Kentucky baseball team. Among them was the uncertainty of who would start at second base, a position vacated by four-year starter Ryan Wilkes, who Rawlings named the best defensive second baseman in college baseball a year before.
That was when then-sophomore Chris Bisson stepped up and locked down the position, becoming UK’s top offensive threat throughout the year, providing consistency and spark to the Wildcat lineup.
The Orleans, Ontario, native, made good on the opportunity, leading the club in nearly every offensive category, including average (.360), at bats (222), runs scored (49), hits (80) and RBI (52), reaching base safely in 49 of 52 games and earning All-Southeastern Conference accolades. Not bad for a first-year starter who picked up the game late as a youth in hockey-mad Canada and mustered just a .157 average in 13 starts a year prior.
“Chris had an excellent offensive year for us last season,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “He brings a spark and energy to the lineup that is important to put pressure on the opposing defense.”
A 5-foot-11 infielder, Bisson’s game is as a speedy top-of-the-order hitter, a left-handed hitting igniter of the offense. With UK facing a host of injuries throughout the lineup and the lack of a proven RBI producer, Henderson made a successful midseason lineup shift, moving Bisson from leadoff to the No. 3 spot in the order. Bisson blossomed in the three hole, batting .352 with 25 RBI in 22 games.
Following the season, Henderson and the UK staff wanted the explosive infielder to be challenged in the best summer collegiate league in the country, the prestigious Cape Cod League.
Bisson was challenged in the Cape, and he passed with flying colors.
Playing with Cotuit, Bisson led the league in stolen bases, leading the Kettlers to the championship series. He swiped 36-of-45 bases during 42 games, matching a club record and becoming just the fourth CCL player in the last 10 years and the third in the last nine years to steal 30 or more bags during a summer. Of the three previous players to steal 30 or more bags in the Cape, two advanced to play in the big leagues. Overall during the summer, Bisson batted .269 (36-for-134) with a team-best 36 hits for a club that hit just .239 as a team in the pitching-laden Cape Cod League.
“After the summer Chris had in the Cape, he established himself as a legitimate prospect with his defensive abilities, athleticism and consistent bat,” Henderson said. “We expect Chris to continue his progress into the 2010 season and have another excellent year for us, both offensively and defensively.”
Back for his junior season, Bisson has his sights set on leading the Wildcats into yet another breakthrough season in the rugged SEC. When the Wildcats, ranked as high as No. 22 in the preseason, take the field for the Caravelle Resort Invitational in Myrtle Beach, S.C., to open the year against Virginia Tech on Feb. 19, there won’t be any doubt about who will open up at second base. It will be the now-veteran Chris Bisson.